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NYWIFT Member screening series: How To Lose Your Virginity

Female virginity has been glorified by popular culture, fetishized by porn and even "restored" through surgery. One woman's virginity recently fetched $780,000 at auction and an artificial hymen sells online for $30. 

Fifty years after the Sexual Revolution, this outmoded construct continues to define the morality and self-worth of young women. Layering verité, interviews and vintage sex-ed films with candid reflection and wry narration, How to Lose Your Virginity is a personal journey and an eye-opening study of modern sexuality.

Using her own path out of "virginity" to frame the narrative, Shechter creates a far-reaching dialogue with women across the sexuality spectrum: Lena, once shamed for writing about her sex life, now organizes around it; Judy, a Julliard-trained violinist, prays to keep mind and body pure while touring with pop provocateur Lady Gaga; Meghan, a transgender-identified woman, reevaluates what sex and virginity mean for her changing body. Using sly humor and candid revelations, the documentary showcases a daring commitment to deeply personal storytelling.

Therese Schecter is the director, producer and writer of How to Lose Your Virginity. Shechter deftly fuses humor spiked personal narrative with grassroots activism to chronicle twenty-first century feminism. Her short documentary #SLUTWALKNYC premiered at the 2013 Hamptons Film Festival and spawned an online interactive offshoot The V-Card Diaries, a crowdsourced story collection about "sexual debuts and deferrals," curated by Shechter and on exhibit at the Kinsey Institute. Shechter has spoken about virginity, feminism and sexuality at Harvard University's Rethinking Virginity conference, New York University, and other universities, museums and cabarets. Her work has been covered by the Huffington Post, Forbes, the Guardian, Bitch Magazine and the Jakarta Globe among others. Her writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Women & Hollywood and Adios, Barbie. Schecter's first feature documentary, the award-winning I was a Teenage Feminist (2005) has screened from Stockholm to Delhi to Rio, as well as Serbia's first-ever Women's Film Festival. Her short documentary How I learned to Speak Turkish (2006) has also been screened internationally and won the Documentary Jury Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival. Prior to being a filmmaker, she served as the visual editor of the Chicago Tribune, where she provided visual direction for two Pulitzer Prize winning projects.

Lisa Esselstein produced and provided additional writing for How to Lose Your Virginity. She is an award-winning producer with more than ten years of experience creating content for film and television. When not acting as Therese Shechter's sounding board, she writes and produces at Sundance Channel. There, she oversees national promotional campaigns for the network's unscripted original programming including Push Girls, Iconoclasts and the Peabody award winning Brick City. She also produces short-form documentary programming for scripted originals such as the Emmy-nominated Top of the Lake, Rectify and The Red Road. Prior to Sundance Channel, Esselstein produced and edited trailers and behind-the-scenes documentaries for IFC Films. She has been involved with the marketing and release of over 55 titles during her career, including Me and You and Everyone We Know, Good Time Max, Paranoid Park, Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten and the Oscar-nominated Transamerica. Esselstein and Shechter met as volunteers at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and have been collaborating ever since. Her work is viewable at builtbylisa.tv. 

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events
are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York
State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and
the New York State Legislature.